Cult Corner

Footballers as religious icons: showcasing David Diehl’s Ikonen series

Footballers as religious icons: showcasing David Diehl’s Ikonen series

In the latest of a new Squawka series showcasing football-inspired artwork, we bring you David Diehl’s exquisite depictions of iconic players from Pele to Pirlo. 

Inspired by the connection between religion and football, Diehl, who is based in Zurich, Switzerland, began work on the series in 2013 and has since received over 15 commissions.

“Religion and football have many similarities, stadiums are the new cathedrals and so on,” he said in an interview with Art Loves Sport.

“I like the game as sort of poetry, I understand very much in a Galeano-way.* I also like the atmosphere in the stadium, the sounds, the smell.”

Working with oil paints, gold leaf and pinewood, the Swiss artist, who counts Italian renaissance painter Caravaggio among his favourites, has now produced over 30 icons all using his distinctive style of capturing football stars with the aesthetics of religion.

Diehl has now started work on the latest piece in the series – a portrait of Swedish hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic – and to follow the creation process you can catch updates via his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

What is his favourite piece in the series to date?

“I guess my favourite piece still is the Socrates icon I made,” he adds. “But its sold. I also like the Pirlo one which – until now – I resist to sell.”

Like what you see? You can purchase prints of any of the icons exhibited in the gallery above (so much choice!)

* Eduardo Galeano was a Uruguayan writer whose book ‘Football in Sun and Shadow’ (1997) is considered among the best books on the sport ever written.

More Football Art…

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